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Former Parent Taking A Public Stand On Behalf of TF's Second Generation

from Eva St John - Sunday, December 07, 2003
accessed 2053 times

My name is Eva St John. I am a former parent with four grown children who were born into TF. We've been busy trying to rebuild our lives and have had almost no contact with other ex members or former children for the past several years. But before that, after breaking away from TF, the kids and I spent several years speaking out publicly in the media in an attempt to bring to light the plight of TF kids, especially the first generation. Now there's been a new development. Two weeks ago, when it was brought to my attention that TF is still publicly propagating the same lies and cover-ups, I found myself compelled to stand up and speak out publicly again on behalf of former child victims of TF in the presence of some government officials, duped 'experts' and the top Australian Family leaders. But first let me introduce myself….

During my childhood and teenage years I was bullied, bashed and sexually molested by dominant males who made it clear that as a woman my only 'worth' was as a servant and sex object for men. But I wanted more than that, so at 15 I ran away from home to 'find God' and get some answers. So I was ripe fruit when at 16 I was recruited into the COG in the early seventies, which at the time was pretty benign and non-sexual compared to what it became later on.

At 18 I was married off in TF to a man I barely knew, and - with no birth control permitted - began having children straight away. I was often privately very confused and miserable, although completely brainwashed into believing TF was 'the truth' and that I 'had' to be there for the sake of my children and our salvation, or else.

In spite of this, I ran away twice and tried to get out several other times, but they managed to keep me in the loop and get me back. When my marriage broke up in TF, my eldest child was taken from me by his father at two-and-a-half. He is now 28 and I don't know where he is, which is a great heartache to me. His name is Aaron.

Even though I was convinced we had ‘the truth’, I was almost always in trouble with the leaders for questioning TF policies and practices -especially in regards to the treatment of the children - and was labeled and scapegoated as a 'trouble maker' because of it. As a result, for the last two years I was in TF I was under detention and punishment, and sometimes 'partial excommunication'. When they finally realized they couldn't break me and that I was not going to give up challenging and questioning the madness, they excommunicated me for the 'crime' of being an 'incorrigible independent thinker'.

Then, in 1992 the Dept of Children's Services here in Australia raided TF communities and took 128 children into temporary care (which most of you would have heard about). The first I knew about it was when I saw it on the news. I was not in favor of the children being separated from their parents, but I was in favor of the truth coming out about what life was like for them in TF.

So when I saw that TF leaders were making their teenagers go on TV and lie about how they'd 'never been touched' and 'everything was just hunky dory' - teenagers whom I personally knew to have had an 'active sex life' as children - I was outraged. How dare they silence their own children and force them to lie about how they'd been treated!

By some miracle, when I'd broken away from TF, they'd forgotten I happened to have a full home library of all the lit. I now used it to go public in the media and show what lunacy the kids were being subjected to (ie: the Davidito book, Heaven's Girl, the Mene Letters, ‘The Devil Hates Sex’, Victor's camps, etc, etc).

From the first day I spoke out, the phone didn’t stop ringing. I got calls from kids and other ex members from all over the world just wanting to talk to someone who had some inkling of what they’d gone through. (Probably some of those who frequent this site will have spoken to me at some point, or will know of me). I was appalled that there was so little help for them. This led me to establishing a small support organization for a few years called ‘WINGS’ (Warning, Informing, Nurturing & Giving Sanctuary). I rented a big house and ran it as a refuge for kids coming out of TF and other similar groups, and helped to start up a local help line.

Over a period of four years I toured and spoke extensively on the subject and appeared (often with my children) on most of Australia's current affairs shows, and on radio and the print media, trying to bring some awareness to the plight of TF kids. I was doing this with the hope that it might cause TF parents to be publicly confronted with the truth they were refusing to acknowledge, and that the resultant 'external pressure' might help to force TF leadership to modify their child rearing practices and cease the warped indoctrination and abusive treatment.

To some extent, it seemed that the efforts of those of us who went public did seem to cause Zerby and co to curb some of their worst excesses and come up with The Charter, etc. But it was obvious TF’s leadership would never have a true repentance.

Meanwhile, as I struggled with a long term chronic fatigue-type illness that was getting worse from my overworking, the Australian leaders were on a major PR and propaganda drive. They were sucking in and ‘cultivating’ government officials and the media, and had launched a major smear campaign against me. They even got an ignoramus 'celebrity cult expert' on side who, to this day - even though I've shown him the books and Letters and the written testimonies of former children and told him everything - still defends TF publicly, claims he's seen 'no evidence', and ridicules the stories of ex members and former children as erroneous and 'not to be relied upon'. (It makes me furious!)

By 1998 I had burned out due to illness and needed to take time out on my own to heal. Thus far TF had claimed 26 years of my life, both as a member and as a vocal ex member. But I had never taken any time out for myself, to process and look at all my own grief and wounding. I needed to do what my grown children were now doing: to go off on my own to find who I really was outside of any involvement with TF and Christianity and motherhood, and begin to heal on the deeper level. In order to do that, I needed to re-find the person I was as a 16 year old searcher before TF changed my name and my identity and took over my thinking.

So I handed my remaining work over to others and walked away from all involvement completely. I was so sick of TF I never wanted to hear of them again. I dropped out and moved to an 'alternative' country town (where I now live) to recover my health and explore the world through new eyes. That was five years ago.

I became so taken up with new interests and my new life that I never even so much as looked up anything to do with TF on the internet or sought out other ex members any more, until now. It is only because I've been confronted once more with the reality of TF's denial of the harm MO's teachings and TF practices have done to the kids, and the lies they are continuing to propagate to whitewash the past (effectively silencing their own children), that I have felt compelled to re-engage.

I have written a newspaper article about this recent confrontation around the children's rights and would like to ask permission to post it on this site next time I log on. For now, it's time I signed off because I've made this far too long already.

There's just one more thing I want to say. As a formerly screwed up and delusional Family parent who FFed, ESed, and had a 'Jesus baby', and whose involvement in TF caused suffering for my children, I would like to offer to explore the possible answers to some of the unanswered questions that perhaps other former children may still have regarding their parents' mindset and how they could have behaved the way they did (or still do). I will try to look honestly at my own motivations and reasoning at the time and try to answer sincere question openly, honestly and candidly. I'm not here to preach anything (I'm not an adherent of any particular faith), and I'm not afraid to tackle the 'hairy' questions. I'm an eternal 'explorer'. So feel free to ask. Maybe we can learn more together.

Thanks for letting me share. Eva.

Reader's comments on this article

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from 1984
Sunday, December 21, 2003 - 19:37

dear Eva, i feel temted to see you as one of those adults who were always bothering me while in the cult, you know, making me work very hard and so on, but at the same time, after reading some of the comments here about your post, especially the one that wrote someone who was in the cult for two years, it seems to me that you are not part of those typical fam adults, in fact you were asked to leave because of your attitudes towards some family policies, etc. the point is that you mostly remaind me of those poor single mothers while in the cult who had to go out and postering the whole day, or work with their babies cooking for several people in the kitchen with just little help because they were being punished, etc. and a last thing, to refute this person who met the fam in Russia, you joined the cult when you were 18, i mean, now i´m 30, i left the cult when i was 18, at that age you´re changing from teenage to adult life, and we all know how the brainwashing works, so why some one who was always under fam vigilance, suffering from fam policies concerning those who were not behaving the way they wanted to, and afterwards asked to leave (not because of molesting children, but because of her independent and free thoughts) would have to apologize -as this person (the one who joined in Russia) suggests to do so? i think you are doing a lot for your own kids and probably they feel proud of you now that you are unmasking the cult
(reply to this comment)
From Eva St John
Monday, December 22, 2003, 23:47


G’day 1984

I appreciate your insight and generosity, and that of other SG commenters here. I sat down to write you a response, but it ended up being pretty long - an article in itself, so I am submitting it as such under this same section. Please give it a read as it may help to give you some further insights into the ‘madness of the FGs’ during their time in TF, and what on earth they were thinking.

Best wishes, Eva(reply to this comment

from Eva St John
Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 18:26



Hi! I have posted a copy of the newspaper article I wrote about the conference under 'Seeking Justice', along with further commentary. It should fill you in. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me.

Michael K.

You sound like what we would term here in Oz as 'a bit of a wanker', ie: someone who spouts off self righteously out of ignorance or denial. If you never experienced life in TF during the late '70's and '80's, and if you were only in between '92 and '94 right at the time when TF was on it's biggest PR drive, had purged all it's past lit, were 'rewriting' it's history, and were pretty 'tame' compared to the past, I would hardly consider you in a position to judge those who were formerly there in the thick of it.

I agree with you that parents should take responsibility for their mistakes and failings, which is why I gave years of my life trying to help and speak out for TF kids. I feel responsible for my former youthful ignorance, disempowerment and deluded state of mind - which adversely affected and hindered my ability to be an empowered and truly responsible parent - while under Berg's spell. I see what ‘obeying the word’ (aka Berg’s and Zerby’s continuous indoctrination) did to me and to my children - the ‘fruits’. And for the sake of other children and former children, I see that it is very important that other Family parents wake up from Berg's and Zerby's masterfully woven matrix of delusion and see clearly the full truth of what it has done/is doing to their kids - and themselves.

(Speaking of which, when I recently saw a family of fulltime Family members - it was the first time I'd laid eyes on Family members in the flesh in maybe 8 years - I looked into their faces and was shocked. All I could think was, 'My God, they look so hollow! So empty!’ Their smiles and words seemed so contrived, like there was ‘nothing going on in there’ outside of the one program they've been trained to run on. It's sad. All their thoughts and words come pre-packaged. They seldom get to express an original or really honest thought outside of what’s being fed into them and what they're ‘expected’ to think and say. I was excommunicated literally for ‘being a free thinker’. But the opposite of ‘free thinking’ is ‘bound thinking’, which is what keeps people blind and stuck. So if 'free thinking' is an excommunicable offense, that would have to mean that TF are the ‘Society of Bound Thinkers’ - who think they are free. But, I digress).

Anyhow, no hard feelings but I would suggest you do a little more research on the subject and become more informed.

Yours, Eva

(reply to this comment)

from Mir
Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - 15:57


Eva, take no notice at all of Michael K... He's like the pot calling the kettle black! The world is such a weird place that the conclusion I've come to is "there but for the grace of God go I".

You were very young when you were recruited. I think you are a very brave person. Now that I'm all grown up I can appreciate the courage that it takes to put yourself out to help others. My parent's joined when they were 32 in 1972, two years older than me for God's sake! What excuse have they got? Nevertheless, I have forgiven them, because the world is such a damn weird place that there but for the grace of God go I! Perhaps I should even be grateful that I went through all that crap. At least I'm wise to it now. I feel sorry for those who aren't. At least all that was robbed from me was MY childhood and not my son's. At least I don't have to reproach MYSELF for allowing myself to be abused and allowing my son to be abused. That must be horrible.
(reply to this comment)

From Joe H
Tuesday, December 09, 2003, 17:17

My thoughts exactly. The cult is still full of assholes who AREN'T sorry that it seems pointless to waste any negative energy on the adults who are. (reply to this comment
from Blondie_B78
Monday, December 08, 2003 - 05:47


Hi Eva,

Heard that you recently spoke at a conference in Australia. Just curious to hear what you brought up etc. and how at went as there were also spokespersons from TF there.
(reply to this comment)

from Michael K.
Monday, December 08, 2003 - 02:46

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I've read many stories from the FGA former members on the and other sites. There is something sadly common in all of them: you people just don't seem to be able to take a blame and responsibility for your own actions. When your kids were abused, it was your fault as their parents. When you were 'duped and brainwashed' all these years, it was again your own fault for letting others to feed you BS and it was you who swallowed it. You joined a group which many would classify as a "cult" and let others decide for you, and yet when you quit you don't seem to have learnt anything. I have not seen anyone coming out and admitting that yes, they were stupid enough to waste their life on something that turned out a lie (at least for them), and even worse they were careless enough to let their own kids to be abused by the strangers. Instead, you give all sorts of pathetic and lame excuses.

I feel sorry for the kids born into TF, but people who joined TF as adults must be responsible for *their own* actions. Kids don't choose their parents or the environment they live in, but the adults do. And as adults you have to be prepared that some of the actions you take may be wrong, and if they do turn out wrong, then it is your own fault and your own mistake. Just stop blaming others and try to admit that you made a mistake.

Disclaimer: I probably shouldn't be posting on this site in the first place, since I am not an SGA. I joined TF back in 1992 in Russia and left in 1994. Again, I feel sorry for the kids who were born into it, but the adults need to blame themselves, it was/is *their own* fault.
(reply to this comment)
From 1984
Friday, December 26, 2003, 16:32

i can´t talk for all the adults, but some of them, as it seems to be in Eva´s case, it would be unfair to ask her to take the blame for her actions, knowing that at the time when she lived in the cult and you were nobody (as it was her case) you had to obey without questioning, or is it that you never read while in the cult those set of "letters" in that gray little book called "dayily bread" those articles about "trust and obey" or something like that. you leaved in the cult for just two years, and by the time you met the cult there was (at least in the surface) a different stage the cult was facing with, they were under justice sight so they had to make some concesions to the "system". but if you go back to the fam history in the 70s and 80s you will found out "letters" written by Berg where he explicitly advocates as vox Dei child and adults sex, raped, incest, etc. but it was not just his personal opinion on a personal subject, it was the "word of god" and Berg was his channel in order to enlighten the group as a whole. those written texts were not just advices to fam members, they were commands. the problem is that instead of make of people´s life something useful Berg literally made through his "letters" sexual criminals, and as far as i can see it, Eva is just another victim of those statements by Berg, or you never saw single mothers and the treatement they received in the cult ( i mean single mothers without someone to look after them, not the doughter of the sheperds). anyway, this has turned to be quite depressive, so i better go. peace to you.(reply to this comment
From Joe H
Monday, December 08, 2003, 18:08

Where's your apology then? If it took you two years to figure out that something was wrong, how much better are you than someone for whom it took 20? You accuse Eva of having learned nothing, but I disagree. She seems to have learned humility, while you've still got the holier than thou attitude of a cult member. How's that working out for you?(reply to this comment
From Michael K.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003, 03:58

Joe H wrote:
Where's your apology then? If it took you two years to figure out that something was wrong, how much better are you than someone for whom it took 20?

I am not better then her or anyone else, we are more or less the same. It just puzzles me (and quite frankly annoys) that so many people quitting TF blame Berg, Zerby and most often anonymous "COG/The Family" without realizing that they also took part in what the group is like today. All these things did not happen on another planet.

She seems to have learned humility, while you've still got the holier than thou attitude of a cult member. How's that working out for you?

learning himility, holier than thou... Sounds familiar. Which MO letter was it in? ;)

I don't want to go back to learning humility and I don't think she, you or anyone else for that matter should learn it either. Why? Because the next logical step would be to start using what you have learnt, i.e. be humiliated....
(reply to this comment
From Joe H
Tuesday, December 09, 2003, 12:22

" I am not better then her or anyone else, we are more or less the same. " Yet you still haven't accepted blame or responsiblity. What's stopping you?(reply to this comment
From anovagrrl
Monday, December 08, 2003, 17:29


Eva was not an adult when she was recruited. Given her abusive childhood, she had a very limited capacity to make healthy choices. As a 16-year-old, she also appears to have had a limited range of social options or ways to escape her predicament. I do not interpret Eva's explanation for what she did or did not do while in TF as making excuses for herself or failing to take responsibility for her actions. In fact, she appears to have taken quite a lot of responsibility for herself by resisting TF leadership, cooperating with the child welfare authorities, and continuing to speak out publically.

Praise and blame are like a carrot and stick that drive unwitting beasts. Blame, in particular, is not a very useful motivator for taking responsibility over situations one actually has the power to change. Many things for which you suggest Eva should take responsibility are, in fact, situations over which she had no power to effect change. Is it because you are male that you do not understand just how vulnerable young women with dependent children are to exploitation, domination & control or how relatively powerless they are to make certain kinds of choices?

(reply to this comment

From Yes, but....
Monday, December 08, 2003, 03:16

I agree with your point, but to Eva's credit, she DID speak out publicly against the Family in the media, and has been vocal in her criticism of them. (reply to this comment

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